A Better Life [2011]

A Better Life is director Chris Weitz’s (Twilight: New Moon; About a Boy) and writer Eric Eason’s take on the life of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles, their work and the upbringing of their bicultural offspring. Weitz, an American with the smallest hint of Hispanic heritage (his grandmother was film actress Lupita Tovar), should be commended for turning in a realistic portrayal of Mexican people. The film’s best asset, though, is Demián Bichir, a star in Mexico and part of an established acting dynasty. His slow-burning, understated, heart wrenching performance is already generating Oscar buzz. Breakthrough actor José Julián provides great support as his volatile son.